Category Archives: technology

Otterbox Defender case damaged my iPhone 6 screen

iphone screen damaged from otterboxTitle pretty much says it all. I bought an Otterbox Defender case to protect my phone when I am out at jobsites or working outdoors when I want extra protection for my phone. I’ve had the phone about three weeks and have used the Defender case a total of three days at the most- usually I have my iPhone in a slim leather case.

Monday I noticed some kind of smudge mark on my iPhone’s screen- I attempted to clean it off but it would not come off. I tried some car wax to try to polish it off- but it did nothing. I could not figure out what would cause the mark- until I looked at the Otterbox case. On the front piece of the Otterbox case is a thin membrane material that covers the home button- exactly the same size as the marks on my iPhone’s screen. This material is not flush with the case, so it rubs against the screen and apparently will damage the protective coating on the screen.otterbox case

I emailed Otterbox some photos and a summary of my issue but received no response. So I put up a video showing the issue- shared my frustration on twitter and got a few responses from folks that have had the same problem.

Otterbox has yet to respond to my email. I did get a response from @OtterboxCS on Tiwitter- “Unfortunately as we are not the device manufacture, we are unable to provide a warranty or replacement on the device itself.” Translation- “Buzz off”.

Needless to say I will never purchase anything from Otterbox in the future. The crappy design of this case made the damage to the screen inevitable. Otterbox not taking 2 minutes to respond to my email, only using a canned twitter reply to deal with my complaint is enough to tell me they could care less if I am happy.  The irony is I purchased their case to protect my iPhone- yet their case has managed to permanently damage my new iPhone’s screen in just a few days.

The customer service folks at Otterbox didn’t have time to respond to my email, however they did take time to look me up on linkedin:

linkedinSo if you want to protect your phone from damage- please avoid using the Otterbox line of cases.

Sample footage from Vievu2


Here’s some sample footage from Vievu’s new wearable video camera, at this point this is as much of a review I can do- they have not finished the iOS app to allow streaming and control of the camera yet.

This short clip shows the quality of video this small camera can produce. Not as good as an iPhone, but considering it’s size it’s decent.

Vievu finally ships the Vievu2 wearable camera

vievu2 finally shipsAlmost a year ago I backed a project on indiegogo for a wearable camera from a Seattle company, Vievu. The camera was to ship about 9 months ago, but was delayed for various reasons. Anyhow the camera was delivered today via UPS and I’m planning on giving it a good rundown over the next couple days and doing a full review on here. Stay tuned.

Parashoot team responds to blog post- “Get lost asshole”

The Creators of ParashootApparently the folks at Parashoot didn’t appreciate my blog post regarding their bizarre post fundraising behavior.

They have been awfully busy deleting posts from their comment board on indiegogo (over 30 posts removed at last count), but don’t have the time to post any evidence that they have done anything since raising $150,113 back in October.

Anyhow they were nice enough to send me this note Saturday:

email from team parashoot

Apparently the boys don’t like people questioning their little camera project. They’re only two months behind schedule on delivery and have provided no evidence that they have done anything to produce their camera. I’m sure it will work out just fine.

The odd crowdsourcing story that is ParaShoot 2.1

Iparashoot 2.1 crowdsourcing‘ve backed a few projects on Kickstarter in the past with mixed results. Often the goal is not met, or in some cases the people raising money fail to produce their product, only to keep the money.

A few months ago I backed a project on Kickstarter, the “Parashoot” portable HD camera. Sadly their campaign was cancelled by Kickstarter shortly before it was scheduled to end. Messages in the project comments questioned why their camera appeared to be an exact copy of a camera that was already available under various names such Unieye for less than a hundred bucks in some cases. I ended up buying one on ebay and it turned out to be a decent little camera. Some video from my unieye here.

Well the same guys started another campaign for the “Parashoot 2.1 camera” on the crowdsourcing site Indiegogo. This time they raised over 150k and promised delivery of the camera in November for early backers. The camera looked the same as the ones already for sale, with the exception of a smooth cover that was shown on some of their photos (but others showed the same face as the camera already for sale) No explanation as to how the smooth face version would deal with the microphone and speaker, which are now missing.

Anyhow, raised their cash, then missed their November delivery. Some folks questioned why they were not updating the development status on their Facebook page and in the Indiegogo comments for their project.

On December 11th they finally emailed an update to backers. (I backed their project so I received it)

Here is the content of their 12-11-13 update:

News and Update

We’re excited to share with everyone our latest progress.  Given the great support and much feedback we’ve received to improve the performance of the ParaShoot to the maximum, we’ve pushed ahead to accomplish significant stretch goals for advanced hardware and software capabilities.  Even though we did not reach the amount of funding we had laid out for these major upgrades from the outset, we realized it would be valuable to backers that we accomplish them now, rather than shipping the ParaShoot with the specifications/features as is.  The following are the results of our ongoing labor:

Upgrades

We have been working feverishly to upgrade the hardware and software capabilities of the PS.  Going down the list, here is what we are improving as we speak:

CPU – upgrade

DRAM – upgrade

Internal memory – upgrade

Camera sensor – upgrade (our prototype was a 1Mp sensor)

Video resolution – upgrade (this is exciting, we’ll post an update on specific progress in the video resolution area again soon)

Photo resolution – upgrade

App functions – upgrade (adding functions that will allow to enjoy not just time lapse photography, but additional awesome photo and video features – more on this to come)

App capabilities – upgrade (Adding ability to share/upload your footage to youtube/social networks)

New sensors – g-sensor, gyro, external gps (each serving a unique purpose)

Design – we are working to improve the enclosure (more on this to come)

Accessories – we are improving the accessories

Let’s not forget the skins – now is the time to share your input/ideas with us

In light of all these great upgrades, we realize now that our initial estimated delivery schedule was aggressive.  The technical effort to advance the specs and upgrade the PS has pushed back the delivery timetable.  We are now estimating that November early adopters will receive the first prototypes in January, and December First Backers will receive the PS in late January/February.  We hope you look forward to getting and appreciating this awesome piece of tech as much as we can’t wait to get the ParaShoot your hands for your utmost fun and deployment.

I thought it was weird that they emailed this update rather than put it on their project page, like every other project. I also thought it was weird that they are adding a “G Sensor, Gyro and External GPS” to the camera when they never mentioned this during the previous months of promotion, and no user requested any of these pointless features.  I questioned this in the comment section of their project page and all my comments were deleted within minutes.

To date they have not shown a photograph showing any progress of this project, no photos from their trips to China, no shots of the production, no proof that they done anything with the $150,113 they raised.

Even worse for these guys, the Looxcie 3 is now available, which looks to be exactly the same camera they were developing, with better software and cases, for $99. (Some people paid $500 for the privilege of getting 2 Parashoot cameras, roughly $300 more than what you would pay to get the two Looxcie 3 cams today) I mentioned on the Parashoot Facebook page and it was promptly deleted.

I hope these guys can deliver what they promised their backers. Their odd behavior with deleting comments, hiding updates from the public and getting their Kickstarter project suspended does seem a little odd. And the fact that you can buy a camera that looks just like the one on their campaign video today, for hundred bucks is pretty disappointing.  Time will tell.

GoPro WiFi BacPac and Remote- Not ready for primetime.

The GoPro Wifi BacPac was released last weekend after months of delays. Based on my experience with it, they should have delayed it even further.

I purchased my first BacPac last weekend at Best Buy, and finally got around to playing with it Wednesday night. The unit as it comes out of the box is inoperative, it (and your GoPro) all require firmware updates prior to use. I updated the camera, BacPac and remote without any issues. I then left the BacPac and remote plugged in for a few hours to charge them. After a couple of hours I unplugged the devices and attempted to “pair” them. The BacPac fired up fine and went into pairing mode easily. The remote, well, it was dead. Would not start. No light, no display, nothing. Plugged it into the usb port, and it fired right up. Paired it with the camera, and was able to activate the shutter and change shooting modes without any problems. Only issue was if I unplugged the remote it would instantly die.

So I returned it to Best Buy for an exchange, which was an adventure all in itself. Anyhow, I got the new BacPac and remote, updated the BacPac, then started the update to the remote. The remote update made it to 50% and stopped. For an hour. After two hours it was obvious it was not going to update. I unplugged the remote and it continued to display “UPDATE.”

It continued to say that until I went to bed. I woke up and it was dead. After plugging it in, it continued to say “UPDATE”. I emailed GoPro for help, but I’m pretty sure this is my second failed BacPac/remote.

I guess I will go back to Best Buy and see if the third time is the charm. At this point, I’m not too impressed with the quality of the devices.

Review of the XP2 Quadcopter from Xproheli

I’ve been looking for a quadcopter or helicopter to shoot decent HD video for a while. I had some success using an HD Camera on an AR Drone, but the quality leaves a lot to be desired and the lifting performance is simply not there. I thought about a Trex 700, Gual x7, and the X650 from Xaircraft as well as several other options available on the internet. Then I stumbled on the XP2 from Xproheli. These guys are right here in the US (Bend, OR), and they are film makers who have obviously spent hundreds of hours trying to come up with a solution to shooting stable HD video from the air. Before I bought my XP2 I called Xproheli’s owner, Hans Skjersaa, to learn more about the device and what to expect. Hans is pretty pumped about this quad and it comes across quickly. He is willing to walk you through any questions or concerns. I immediately felt more comfortable buying the XP2 knowing I could get support from local guys rather than trying to email someone in China.

So I went for it and bought the RTF XP2 from them. It arrived on my porch the next afternoon, totally complete with radio, 4 batteries and charger (you supply the camera). Hans told me to give him a call before I tried to fly it for the first time, he walked me through what to expect and offered some good tips. After a couple rainy days I had it up flying- the power of this thing blew me away- it has tons of reserve power, carrying a Gopro is not an issue at all for the XP2. You can put this thing several hundred feet in the air in a matter of seconds. Unlike the AR Drone and some helicopters, this quad has no “stable” or auto leveling feature- if you do a control input it stays in that orientation until you counter that input. So, if you bank to the right, it will stay in that bank until you roll out of it yourself. At first this is a little hard to learn, but the results are the video will be very smooth. I’m thinking I’ll be installing a FPV video system next to allow for better control at altitude or distance.

I’ve got dozens of trouble free flights on it so far (about 2.5 hours of actual flight time) and I really love the way this thing flies. It’s durable- being made of aluminum it’s very light, and unlike so many of the other quads out there, if you land hard or have an accident you can bend the aluminum back into alignment rather than have broken carbon fiber or plastic pieces to deal with.

I hope these guys keep pushing the design to allow for larger cameras, and maybe add features like GPS, altitude hold and other options to make it even more versatile.

Here is a video review I made showing the XP2 in the air, as well as some video and photos I’ve taken with it:

Yeah it’s expensive, but these guys have worked hard to come up with a great quadcopter that is unlike anything else out there and I think it produces video that rivals pro-grade RC helicopters that cost thousands more.

If you are interested in one go to www.xproheli.com and see what they have, you won’t be disappointed.


New iPad having some heat issues.

My new iPad (iPad 3, HD or whatever you want to call it) showed up friday via FedEx. It’s a nice update to the iPad, the new screen must be seen to be appreciated, and the improved camera makes it finally useful as a image gathering device. I’ve been using it a lot today since it’s Saturday and I wanted to tweak things and play some games on it. After an hour or so I noticed it was a little warm on the left side. I was playing Modern Combat 3 and thought maybe the game was the issue. But it really doesn’t matter what I do with the iPad, it just happens to run a little on the warm side. Particularly on the lower left side of the device. I never noticed any heat issues with my original iPad or my iPad 2. Not sure it’s a major issue, but it could contribute to device shut-down during hot days, and heat is never a good thing for the batteries. I took a couple photos with my Flir camera to show how hot this thing is running. Top photo is the front, here’s a shot of the back:

Over in the Apple support communities there are a few discussions about the heat issue: New iPad overheating?

Overall I really like the new iPad, this is just something I’ve noticed and will keep an eye on.

 

App Review: F1 2012 Timing Application

With the start of the Formula 1 season starting in less than two weeks I thought I’d review the new 2012 F1 Timing app for the iPad and iPhone. This is a great app for serious F1 fans who want as much info they can get their hands on. The thing that really makes it unique is the real time placement of the cars on a 3D representation of each track. You can rotate to change views, pick a corner or part of the track you want to see and watch the cars going by. In addition the leaderboard shows real time information on sector time, what type of tires the car has on as well as other details. 

 

The app lets you pause races (or practice/qualifying sessions), rewind, fast forward. It stores the races which will be nice for those who DVR the race, letting you start both at the same time. Watching a race with all this information available is going to be great. The app is about $30, so its really for the hard-core F1 fan who needs as much data as they can get their hands on. All the tracks are modeled with good detail, real time news updates, team information as well as other data. Here is a link to the app for those that are interested: F1 2012 Timing App

Check out the video I made showing the app in use:

 

Test Flight of XP2 Quadcopter from XProheli

Here’s a quick video of a test flight of the XP2 Quadcopter from XProheli I shot this afternoon. I’m planning on doing a full review of this unit in the next few days. It’s a very well built quad built from the ground up with aerial video in mind.